From an email written by one of the readers of The Iranian in Los Angeles about the fifth annual Jusur Graduate Student Conference on the Middle East at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) held April 26-27, 1996.
As much as I wanted to participate in the conference, I only made it to two of the panels. The conference itself started on Friday. Today there were four panels and I woke up late, so I totally missed the first panel.
Later I asked a gentleman (Seth Jameson) who was coordinating the program, and he told me they have taped it and he got my phone # and said he will get the video tape for me.
So hopefully I can get my hands on the tape and write some thing on it. The second panel of the day was about Sufi religion and history. I found that quite boring. And the third panel was on Iranian women, culture and politics. I very much enjoyed that one.
Later on I will write you the full description of the panels and the topics discussed. But for now I mainly want to emphasize on the atmosphere of the conference.
Many people (mostly Persians) showed up for the first panel. There was a big crowd (around 100) and few famous faces were recognizable there, but for the second panel only 10-20 people were present and also for the third!
In the morning, when I saw the crowd of Persians, I suddenly felt such joy about how much my beloved Iranians are interested in topics related to Iran. Ladies all graciously were dressed up and gentlemen were gathered in small circles discussing different issues. It was a wonderful gathering.
But this wonderful crowd so suddenly disappeared after the first panel and much to my disappointment I found out the main reason the crowd was there was because of Ali Reza Pahlavi.
The very first question that came up to my mind was who is this person who has brought this crowd here. I do not exactly know what was the first panel discussion, but the third panel was also very interesting and also it was related to Iran, so I was kind of expecting to see Iranians there as well. But except for a handful of Iranian professors and students, no other Persian soul came to the third panel.
Anyhow when I got home, I asked my parents if they knew who Ali Reza Pahlavi was and my mom said, he was the shah's youngest son. Jokingly I said: "Oh wonderful! I am going to marry him." Then my dad so seriously said: "Ghalat kardi!" (over my dead body!)
That is the first time my dad talked to me in such a tone! At first I thought my parents were kidding with me that Ali Reza is the shah's son, but then when I checked with you, you said the same thing. I thought the shah only had one son.
Well, I met our prince today without knowing who he was and I would never know it since he looked so much like one of us. And I shall say, he was shy.
My parents think it was all political game that UCLA invited him. I think it was because of his knowledge of Sassanid history. My parents think I am naive to think like this. Mr. ..., which one of us is right, my parents or I?
My parents don't talk much about politics in front of me, so I don't know exactly what they think of our little prince. But I personally feel sorry for him. I am going to include him on the list of people whom I pray for. May god bring happiness for him. He looked sad today :-(